Resources - Mature Market Headlines

Mountain of debt: Social Security crisis looms

The Associated Press, 8/13/09

Abstract:

As Congress agonizes over health care, an even more daunting and dangerous challenge is bearing down: how to shore up Social Security to keep it from burying the nation ever deeper in debt.

What to do about mushrooming government payments as millions of baby boomers retire? How about a giant federal Ponzi scheme? That might work for a while.

But wait. That's pretty much the current system. Social Security takes contributions from today's workers and uses them to pay the old-age benefits that were promised to retirees. But there are serious concerns how long that can last.

President Barack Obama has said he'll tackle Social Security and related "entitlement" programs when the health care overhaul is resolved. But the anger and intensity of that debate could complicate his effort.

Failure on health care could make it harder, if not impossible, for Obama to successfully tackle overhauling Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

The raucous health care debate is "a bad omen for any change in social policy," said Ross Baker, a political scientist at Rutgers University who's also a former Senate aide.

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